Friday, 15 April 2011

Studio visit + interview: Odds&endS

Our current enCOUNTER exhibition Yarnscape has been quite the hit, with most of the works snapped up already. In light of its success you'll be happy to see that our promised interview + studio visit with Odds&endS is finally ready!

You might remember Odds&endS from Craft Hatch many, many moons ago in 2010 where they debuted their knitted cacti at one of our City Library markets. The label has since blossomed and they've gone on to do many marvellous things - and we must say how glad we are that we were able to contribute to their success in the beginning!

On CLOG today, Andrea from Odds&endS has taken a break from changing the world one knitted cactus at a time to give us a peek into her work space as well as answering a few questions. Yay!

L-R: Andrea's studio, painting by Andrea's sister Renee and Odds&endS co-crafter that hangs in her studio: "I love its intense red color and serene face of the subject."

Please tell us about Odds&endS and how the knitted cactus began! When did you launch your label and what encouraged you to do so?

The label started last year as a outlet for my sisters and my love of vintage textiles and craft techniques. We both have trained in design, Renee in Fine Arts and Printmaking and my own in Industrial and Fashion Design. We are also self confessed hoarders, and really Odds&endS was born out of our want to share our collections of ephemera with others, by incorporating it into unique handmade items.

The knitted cacti are my baby, the concept came from 2 sources the first, my knack at killing just about any plant that enters my home, and secondly a sweet little fabric cacti shaped pin cushion (pictured below) that I collected years ago from a thrift store. It is wonderful to see just how happy the knitted plants make people, I guess there are a lot of well intended gardeners like me out there, that can't bring themselves to bury another cactus... the knitted variety are perfect!

Vintage sewing patterns + craft books + being highly organised = lots
of inspiring material!

In between your fashion industry job and being a mum, how do you manage to balance everything while being so excellent? What’s a typical day like for you?

Life is pretty busy I must admit, but I have the best family who support and encourage me every day. I could not do it without them! No two days are the same, and often I find that I am most productive at night. Particularly when the house is quiet with a cup of tea by my side and my knitting/sewing needles in hand. While it is pretty tiring at times, It's so rewarding to finish a project and to see someone else appreciate the time and effort which has gone into a making it. During these moments it really doesn't feel like work in the slightest.

On the topic of making, what’s one thing that you can’t do without while working? And what gets you inspired to create?

I am forever loosing sewing needles...It's like the sock monster has developed the taste for metal sewing needsl! My grandmother gave me this little embroidered pin cushion (pictured below) which she brought with her from Germany, it is so sweet and beautifully made I love it to pieces. What gets me inspired? It really could be anything, a colour, pattern, shape, music. There is no one source. I do however have a weakness for mid century design and the simplicity of this era's aesthetic.

Please tell us more about Yarnscape – how did you plan it, where did you derive your inspiration and what landscapes did you research? It must have also been quite fun (not to mention time-consuming!) sourcing those lovely pots!

My husband came up with the title of Yarnscape, it seemed to sum up the concept perfectly. The landscape is loosely based on the Arizona desert, one of the first cacti I designed was the signature Odds&endS 'Arizona' forked cacti with his 2 bent arms and soft spikes. It has turned out to be the most popular design, and I guess set the environment for the Yarnscape collection.

The vintage pots are very special, and at times I do find it hard to part with them, it's so easy to get attached to the amazing colours and textures, but we only have so much mantle space! It can be very time consuming sourcing them, as I focus on finding good quality vintage ceramics and they are becoming harder and harder to locate. But I have some wonderful friends that help me with the sourcing from time to time, so I do share the footwork.

Some of the pots sourced by Andrea - you may recognise a few of them that are currently part of the exhibition!

A pencil sketch by Andrea for the backdrop of Yarnscape

What can we look forward to for Odd&endS?

When I started Odds&endS, we really wanted for the label to evolve as a business. As I have so many interests, we didn't want to focus on just one medium or product type. If we were enthralled with making jewellery one month we would, and if we wanted to sew garments another we could. I would dearly love for the label to continue on this journey. Of course the cacti have become a real favorite, and the plant collection will certainly keep on growing. I am forever being inspired by new varieties of plants or interesting woollen materials, so who knows what will be next. I have been approached to make some larger-than-life specimens... which should be fun!

Ceramic sticks (for the pots)!

Another Odds&endS product: soft little bears made from upcycled woollen materials like angora, cashmere and mohair.

Sketching and planning expressions

Your blog is such a wonderful source of DIY projects, beautiful imagery and fascinating finds. What’s caught your eye recently?

Gosh, it's hard to pin point just one source of inspiration, there are so many amazing resources available now.

Blogs: I am totally smitten by AM on The Present Tense, Ana Monteil is a Spanish Graphic Designer who posts some of the most inspiring print resources and fascinating objects. The Beautiful Soup is another daily read, lots of amazing interiors... dream worthy!

Objects: Anything by Ray and Charley Eames, their appreciation for form and function is unprecedented.

All photography courtesy of Andrea Bell, Odds&endS

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